Sunday, August 31, 2014

29 August : A little bit of mingling, playing and lotsa cake...

Woot! The last day of welcome week for us and it was a gathering of the entire school of Game Center and where we introduced ourselves briefly and then mingled and even got to play some games! I am pretty sure I am one of the oldest ones in my cohort but luckily someone nicely mentioned that I did not look old and even looked 26! :P Well it pays to be always young at heart AND mingling with younger people lol... 

It was quite interesting seeing how different our backgrounds are. We have english majors who have never coded before and we have people who are very well versed in the various game development engines and have done a lot. It will be pretty exciting to see what our collaborations will produce. I also got to play 2 games which had been produced by our seniors.

First up is Guts of Glory which was kickstarted in 2012 and I believe, self published. Guts of Glory is a 2-4 player game where players are creatures trying to stuff their mouths with items, chew and swallow them for Glory points. First player to reach 7 will win the game. There are 2 types of cards, Condiments which usually do not provide any glory cards but give special actions, and Food items which usually comes with glory points. Both cards will also have a chew factor which indicates how many chew tokens needs to be placed on them before they can be swallowed and their effects/points activated/scored. During your turn, you have to take a card from the 3 face up cards that are on the "plate" and then place it into your mouth which is your player board. Your mouth can hold 3 condiments and 2 food cards. Then you are to take 2 chew tokens and place them onto the cards in your mouth. If any of them are "chewed" then you activate the action or score the points.
very interesting art but the score track weirdly reminds me of the behind..
The artwork is quite interesting as it has a very artsy somewhat whimsical feel to it. I commented that the score track looks somewhat like an exploding anus but it seems I was the first to think that way. Go figure ;p Gameplay wise it was pretty straight forward to play. The interaction between players seems to come in when you activate cards to steal their food OR forcefully feed them cards. IF they cannot keep the card in their mouths, then they will trigger a SPEW effect which will add +1 glory to the card being spewed and they pass it to the next player. If you can create a chain effect, then you can potentially score up to 3 points with 1 SPEW.

I did not finish a full game though because the other players were drawn to play One Night Ultimate Werewolf with the Chair of my school. Still this game is in our Game Center Library so I will definitely get a chance to finish up a game and post my thoughts about it. Perhaps I can even make a review video if I get the chance.

Next up is Nika which was also recently kickstarted and published by Eagle games. It is a 2-4 player abstract style game that plays from 30 minutes to an hour. It is a team play game so players sitting opposite each other will be part of the same team. The objective is to try to get one of your pieces into your team member's camp. To do that, players have to "walk" or move their pieces from their own camps pass an enemy's camp into your team member's camp.

here we go! Very nice art and board...
During your turn, you have up to 2 actions. Essentially you can do 3 things. You can move a piece OR a Phalanx, rotate a piece or a Phalanx and return a routed piece to your camp. Each player will have 6 discs with an arrow on them. The direction the arrow points will be the direction that army unit is facing. This is important because where you are NOT facing, that unit will be vulnerable to being routed by your opponents' pieces. To route a piece, all you need to do is move your piece into an opponent's piece that is not facing you at that time.

so much routed pieces I have!
To move a piece, you just need to move them along the squares that make up the paths on the board. The direction they will end up facing depends on how they moved. You can also not move and just rotate a piece. This is usually done to protect or threaten to engage an opponent's piece. The interesting part of the game lies in moving as a Phalanx.

Sparta is holding off my phalanx!
A Phalanx is formed when your pieces are adjacent to each other AND facing the same direction. Then you can move that entire group as a Phalanx OR rotate it. The reason for forming Phalanxes is that you will be using less actions to move many pieces. In addition, you can force enemy pieces to retreat because you have more pieces in your phalanx.
door is open for my partner to come in and for us to win!
The art is very clean and minimalistic and had good comments from those watching us play. It is a very abstract game in that thematically, the ability to have Phalanxes is the only thing tying this greek historical boardgame together. That being said, there is quite a clever game here. As a 4 player game, we had to somewhat decide on a path and tactically shift our pieces to both threaten our opponents and allow us to shift a piece to win. Halfway through the game, we thought we were in a bad position mainly because I had so many pieces routed and my side of the board was largely empty. My team mate had one of his side being held off by the opponent to his right. In the end, we both focused on our opponent to my right and manage to route his units enough to let one of my team mate's piece slip through. They did try to stop us but the interesting thing about routed pieces is, is that it allows them to start from your base and thus form a sort of protective corridor for your team mate's piece. I must say though that this game will be quite prone to Analysis Paralysis. Its quite a tactical game because while you may have a strategic plan, a lot of things may have happened before it comes back to your turn again. I guess after several plays you can get a game in under 30 minutes but the way we played it certainly did not seem that way. Take note that this is my first play so I cannot really give a good review of it yet but it was tense for a while as I was wracking my brain thinking of what I can do to help our cause. There are many opportunities for us to stall the game though and many chances for stalemates so that maybe a problem. If you have a chance, do give it a go and let me know what you think!

Oh one thing to note, I previously mentioned how One Night Ultimate Werewolf wasn't the game for me and my group. Well the students played several rounds of this and I realised 2 very important points. One, that yes it DOES require the RIGHT group to fully immerse themselves into the game and bring out the beauty of the game. Second, it is an amazing game to spectate. Similar to Esports and Poker, just watching the players play, lie, scheme is entertaining enough and allows the audience to be somewhat involved in the game! Especially when we saw how one player managed to confuse 3 others and cajole them into voting someone else out as he was the werewolf is like watching an exciting action packed movie. Better than a movie though because you cannot tell what the ending is until the voting.

So as some of you know, I just celebrated my 38th birthday last friday! :D I had a nice ramen meal with Wifey before heading to my school for the intro and welcome reception where everyone sang a birthday song for me and another student. When I got home I had a nice cake waiting for me baked by my Wifey.
birthday ramen! :P
At 38, embarking on a new chapter of my life, knowing I will be 40 when I graduate, can be a very daunting and scary prospect. But really, if there's something worth pursuing and something you are passionate about, why wait until you are way too old and too entrenched in your comfort zone before regretting? I am glad for this wonderful opportunity to be one of two Singaporeans to be selected to be in this program and am excited to see what I will create out of my two years here in the Game Center. It will be a lot of hard work, I will need to restart my somewhat rusty engine again to read, study and program but I am pretty sure there will be amazing outcomes from it. 

Wish me luck!


  1. I agree on the points about One Night Ultimate Werewolf! I realised this week that I only enjoy playing with one of my playing groups whereas the rest of my gaming groups were not so enamoured by it. And I think part of my enjoyment was derived from watching online game play videos. Good luck and happy birthday!

  2. I have a copy of Guts of Glory through Kickstarter. Tried with our regular group once when you were absent months ago. That game took forever to deliver though... love the artwork. Its a simple take-that card game in the end... Enjoy ur birthday weekend!

  3. thanks quentin! Yea i kinda get the sense that it is quite straight forward game..

  4. I guess it's too late for me to wish you a belated birthday .......wahahahah well I can still wish you luck ........

    Somehow, strangely Nika reminded me of a game that I couldn't remember what it is!?!?!? Must be getting old .......